BudgetTracker is a Free online money management tool to help users manage and stay on top of your finances. This blog is dedicated to providing helpful information around finance as well as helpful information about the website.
To help get started with the new iPad app, this article will give you a walk-thru of the app. When you first install the app, the Home screen is a list of all your categories and stored locally on your device. Clicking the plus sign in the upper right corner will allow you to enter in expenses against these categories. Doing so can be done completely offline and without needing a BudgetTracker login. To sync the data on your device with your BudgetTracker account, first click on the list icon in the upper left corner and select “Settings”. Then choose “BudgetTracker Login” and enter your login information. Once logged in, your BudgetTracker categories and the past 60 days of transactions will be imported into your iPad app.
When thinking about budgeting your money, there are typically two types of budgeting, Categorization and Envelopes. The idea behind categories is that you create separate categories for each expense over a monthly period and allocate from the entire monthly income how much you would like to spend during that month. With Envelopes, this usually is allocated based on each check so you know how much is available after each check instead of the whole month. With BudgetTracker, we offer both methods for budgeting your money.
Categories – The way categories work is that you first need to setup your Bills and Income. By doing this, the budget categories will automatically get created for those expenses and income and will be calculated directly from the Bills or Income page. So if you have a Paycheck that occurs weekly, the budget amount will change depending on how many weeks are in the month. Once you see your Bills and Income on the My Budget page, then it’s time to start entering in your manual categories. For this you have 3 options:
Enter the categories directly on the My Categories page. You’ll also see categories that have already been created for you from the My Bills or My Income page. Once the categories are entered, go to the My Budget page and you’ll then see links next to each new category titled “Add to Budget”. This will allow you to determine how much you would like to allocate for that category. As you progress, you can see at the bottom how much is available from your Income.
The second method is to manually create your categories from the My Budget page. With this method, we give you some default categories to choose from or you can create your own. This works similar to setting up your categories on the My Categories page, only that you get more options and can enter the Budget Amount directly from the input section. Also note, your Categories and your Budget Categories are the same thing so that when you record a transaction against a category, you are updating your budget at the same time.
The third option for manual budget entry is to use the Setup Wizard by selecting “Setup Wizard” at the top of the page. This give you default category names with text-boxes to make it easy to enter in several new categories/budget items from a single page.
When setting up your Income on the My Income page, we give you the flexibility to split the way your Income comes in. The easiest way to handle Income is record the Net Amount in the amount field but if you are one of those users that want to keep track of taxes withheld or taxes paid, here are a few options:
The first option is to enter the Net Amount in the top Amount box, then enter your Gross Amount in the first split box. In the 2nd input box and on, you’ll want to enter in negative amounts to simulate your taxes. This is essentially how it will look on your paycheck. Gross – Social Security – Federal, etc. The tricky part comes when selecting a category. With this method you’ll want to choose the same category for all split amounts so that when viewing your chart by category, you see the total net amount for the month and not your gross. You can then further categorize your taxes by turning on Tags from the Settings page and tagging the split items as their appropriate tax category.
The second option which is mainly for Small Businesses is to enter your net amount in the first split box, and taxes in the text boxes thereafter. If you have a small business this works well since in real life you are adding the full gross amount to your Checking Account and then spending it when tax time comes. For personal users however, this method will not work since the total amounts whether negative or positive will not add up to the actual amount you received.
And the third option is to utilize the “Deposit To Multiple Accounts” feature. This will allow you to specify the net amount for your Checking account and assign the category as expected. You’ll then want to create a special account just for your taxes as a placeholder to keep track of so that they do not effect your Checking Account balance when recorded. You can then assign the additional split text boxes their own category and the Tax Account allowing you to graph them separately when needed.
When importing your transactions, most times the bank will give you a payee that starts out with the name of the place you made the purchase at and ends with a long tax id or bank id. To automatically import the correct payee, we have 2 methods in place. The first is to go to Payees page and click on Payee Rules. This allows you to define Payee names to search for when they come in and automatically import them as the name you choose. The second we do automatically. Whenever you change a payee that was imported, we’ll track the change so that if it comes in again, we’ll update it for you. Note that if the payee has a tax id or a unique number, this will need to be added to the Payee Rules to be changed.
We will be implementing a social groups feature that will allow users to create groups and share them with other BudgetTracker users. Once a group is created, you will have your own Forums, Events Application, and Home Page to show what’s going on with the group. We plan to launch this later this month so if you have any ideas you would like to see as a part of the first release, please post them here.
When entering in your Transactions, it’s important to understand the difference between types of transactions to ensure your records are kept in order. Many people misunderstand the differences between Reconciled and Cleared so hopefully this post will help clear it up.
Void: We’ll take the easiest one first “Void”. This of course means that the check is no longer valid and will not be going through your bank. You can use this entry on the BudgetTracker site a few ways; If you’ve already entered in a transaction and even though the transaction didn’t go through, you still want to keep a record that it was intended originally to go through (It’s also helpful to add some notes in your description in this case). The second reason is so that you can accurately record a check number in your registry without adding the amount to your balance. Most commonly, this happens when you tear up a check that was suppose to get sent out.
Unreconciled: The next one is Unreconciled. This is the state between when a check is written but has not been received by the bank. You can also use this for Transactions that have entered on your credit card but do not show up in your banking records online. This is the default for all new transactions since if you enter the transaction the same day you made the purchase, the bank most likely will not know about it yet.
Cleared: This means that the bank knows about your withdrawal or deposit and you confirm the transaction happened. If you look at your records online, you should see your transaction in either a cleared stated when you look through your bank records.
Reconciled: This is probably the most confusing one of them all since it seems very close to a cleared transaction. This is usually related to your bank records when you receive your statement at the end of the month allowing you to check off the transactions that you’ve marked cleared already. I think the common misconception of this one is due to the fact that people can now view their records online so many people think of the transactions they see online as their statement but it’s not. It helps to go through either your e-statement or one that was mailed to you just to double check that everything you’ve marked as cleared has been validated at the end of the month.
Hopefully this will help you understand how to setup your transaction types when entering them into the BudgetTracker system or your own money management preference.
Keeping your accounts in balance with your Bank can sometimes be difficult when entering your Transactions manually. The flexibility of entering your transactions before your bank knows about them allows you to plan for your budget and upcoming expenses. If you find yourself too far behind what your bank states you should have as a total balance, don’t worry we have a solution to get you caught back up. On the My Transactions page at the bottom of each Account is a “Balance Account” link. This allows you to enter what the balance should be according to your bank. If you have future transactions that your bank doesn’t know about yet, leave those as unreconciled and clear all others. If you just want the remaining balance to be identical to the bank, check the Clear all transactions checkbox. This will create a Balance Account transaction by subtracting what your current balance is from the balance it should be.
"Honestly, I am very impressed with this service and find it amazing that it is free. Great work to the BudgetTracker team. You have been around for a while and it is clear that you try to meet everything that your users suggest. Great work."